Steinmeier expects tough debates during EU Council meeting

The European Union will be forced to tighten sanctions against Russia if the militants in eastern Ukraine launch a threatened offensive.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said this to reporters in Brussels on Thursday, before an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, an Ukrinform correspondent reported.

"If the nature of the conflict changes, if the offensive announced by the separatists is not just announced, but an offensive on Mariupol and other regions [of Ukraine] is actually carried out, we will have to respond clearly and firmly," Steinmeier said.

According to him, the situation in the east of Ukraine remains "permanently dangerous", considering the "new outbreak of violence".

"Today we will try to sum up the situation. I expect a long debate," he said, adding that "the debate did not become simpler" because of the position of the new Greek government. "Thus, it is impossible now to make any predictions," he said.

Meanwhile, Steinmeier said that "he will not allow the Minsk agreements to fail."

"The Minsk agreements should remain the basis for a settlement and de-escalation of the conflict" he said and called for the implementation of the agreements reached in Berlin on January 21, on the recognition of demarcation line and withdrawal of heavy weapons there.

ir

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